Dog cafe, Tamagawa Shingen Shrine, and a pizza

Last night I treated myself to my first Japanese pizza and just watched some old South Park episodes. T’was nice. The pizza place was called Pizza La.

Facing at least two dozen very Japanese pizza choices such as corn, teriyaki chicken, and mayonnaise sauce instead of tomato, I was a coward and just ordered the plain cheese pizza. But judge me all you want because it was delicious. The cheese covered almost the entire crust, and it all had a unique taste that’s hard to describe but not to be found in America (at least, not by me).

OK, I’ll describe it, it tasted like burned cheese, but in the good way, I’m serious. If you’ve ever had some crispy, slightly-burned cheese you know what I’m talking about. If not, you’re missing out. Go burn some cheese in a skillet or something. Moving on…

Today, I decided to head over to Denenchofu Station and visit Deco’s Dog Cafe. I thought it would be like a Cat Cafe except with cool dogs hanging out everywhere waiting to be petted and/or begging for food.

Inside Deco's Dog Cafe
Inside Deco’s Dog Cafe

It turned out to just be a cafe that was super-accepting of dogs. I was pretty much the only dude there without one.

Hello! Hello! Hi! I'm a dog and you're a dog hello!
Hello there! Hi! I’m a dog and you’re a dog hello! (Three dogs get acquainted.)

Nevertheless, I had a delicious mango sorbet and got to pet a golden retriever, so that’s a success in my book.

My mango sorbet. Tasty.
My mango sorbet came out, like practically everything in Japan, looking like a picture in a catalog.

Afterward I took a walk around the station, an area called Tokyo Square Garden. I stopped in a flower shop where I saw gorgeous flowers in arrangements priced sometimes at ¥30,000 (about $300 USD).

And I visited a cake-baking shop where I saw this wall-o-flour:

No kidding, this is about a hundred different types of flour for sale.
No kidding: this is about a hundred different types of flour for sale.

At the nearby Starbucks I was given this hand-made (photocopied) iced coffee recipe by one of the baristas while I waited on a seat:

Adorable. And look how perfect that pitcher picture is drawn!

And finally, I visited the Shinto shrine called Tamagawa Sengen.

Tamagawa Shingen Shrine sits next to a gorgeous view of the Tama River.
Tamagawa Shingen Shrine sits next to a gorgeous view of the Tama River.


There are many such holy Shinto and Buddhist sites in Japan, and while I’m sure anything can become familiar to those who have lived here their entire lives, each shrine and temple I’ve visited possesses a stillness that easily turns one’s thoughts inward. I sat for a long while taking regular shots of the sunset and just thinking about things that I usually think about when I get pensive.


It is true that nothing I do matters on its own. No single cell of the body is any more or less important than the rest. All one life amounts to is as a single grain of sand.

Grains of sand under a microscope – each individually beautiful and simultaneously meaningless. Remove even the most beautiful one and no one would notice; remove them all and there could be no beach.

It used to really bother me to consider the “vanity” of life (as the author of Ecclesiastes calls it) — the fact that all ambition is a chasing of the wind. Nowadays, in light of the reality that is the cosmic scale and the wonder that is human consciousness, I think life may simply be a precious gift.

What am I that I should be the steward of such a thing?

I have struggled for years to find that activity I should pursue which might be an adequate, fitting use of this small taste of life I’ve been given. Like a child given a toy agonizing over how exactly he should play with it, when all the giver intended was that he find joy in it.